Scaling Up Your Sales and Marketing III: The Sales Team

So far in our Scaling Up Your Sales and Marketing Series we have covered how customers think and sales and marketing techniques to perfect your sales pitch. In a smaller business, marketing and sales may not be separate entities. But, as you grow larger, they become distinct departments that need their own skills to succeed in. 

If you want to scale up your business, this will likely become the case. As your business grows, you’ll generate more leads to follow up on. It may be that your business will benefit from support to develop a team that’s ready for your influx of customers. 

The simplest breakdown of the difference is that marketing brings potential consumers to your business, sales converts them into paying customers. A sales team will generally be meeting people who have an idea of what they want, and their responsibility is convincing the customer that you provide it whilst getting the best price for your business. 

Here are 4 key elements to consider when establishing a successful sales team to scale up your business.

1. Understanding people

In part one, we explored the importance to sales of understanding how customers think. When hiring your sales team, you want people who have a knack for understanding people. These people should be able to easily draw upon those ideas to naturally talk a customer into a purchase.

When considering someone for a sales position, you want to test their ability to read a person. As discussed, the key to sales is linking your product to what the customer wants. This means you want your team to be quick to figure out what a person really wants, what’s the best sale for them, and how best to get there.

In the end, the best test is always to see them in action. See how well they can figure you out, maybe try a few roleplay scenarios and see if they can get to the bottom of the character’s drives. You want to build a sales team made up of those who can read and charm people, so don’t hesitate to seek expert sales advice on who’s best to hire.

2. Rewarding success

A big part of running a sales team is the incentives. Most sales departments run a performance based rewards system that encourages them to put in the effort. More sales and/or higher-value sales means they get a larger reward. 

Obviously, providing the rewards shouldn’t negate the benefits of them making more sales. You still want the business to make increased profit from their efforts. It can take a lot of experience to know where the balance lies for cost effectiveness.

Likewise, it can help to provide an example of good practice. If you’re good at sales, lead from the front on occasion so the team can see you and learn from you. If you have a star salesperson, recognise them. 

A star can act both as someone to learn from and something to strive for. Just make sure that the competition stays healthy. The rest of the team still needs to feel like they’re appreciated and learning, or the difference can damage morale. 

3. Moderating drive

The kind of people who go into sales tend to have strong drives to succeed. This is great, as it’s what makes them so good at it. It does come with some risks however.

It’s not uncommon for them to see sales as a challenge. They want to make the sale because that is them succeeding, and that’s what they’re looking for. But their success can’t be allowed to come at a cost to the business.

Making a sale is about negotiation. You want to make as much money as you can, while the customer wants to spend as little as they can for the same benefit. When it’s just about the sale, this can become skewed in the customer’s favour.

Often the only thing the salesperson has to negotiate with is the price. It can help to set hard rules to stop them negotiating the price so low that the sale becomes a loss. Some people may forget the business in their drive for personal success.

When running a sales team, it’s good to establish rules to follow, and follow up on them if they’re broken. If they know that going under a certain price doesn’t count as a sale, they will avoid making bad sales. It also helps to make sure everyone knows this and that no one feels singled out, at least to begin with. 

4. Standardising the process

Your team is made up of creative, intuitive people who see sales as a problem to solve. You don’t want to stifle this, but it can help to create a more standard process to follow. 

This way you can help those having a weaker day keep up and avoid any overly rouge moves. This also allows you a framework to set the rules and guidance on what you want from them and what you’ll reward.

This doesn’t have to be a restrictive script, but could be an opening pitch you expect them to follow. It’s likely the sales team had very little to do with the actual design process, so may not really know why it was made the way it was.

A proper process can help them learn exactly why what they’re selling is special. It can help them see the benefits of the features and get into the head of the people they’re trying to sell to. A sales team who really believes in the product or service will be much more convincing to buy from.

A standardised process also allows for a more consistent sales experience. There is often a specific person that a customer will get on with best, but keeping a regular experience will mean that not being able to link them won’t affect the sale.

To summarise

You want to make sure your sales team is made up of naturally empathetic people with a talent for talking. They want to be rewarded and let loose to practice their skills, but as a leader you need to balance what’s best for your business. 

If you don’t have the personal experience to do this as well as you’d like, consider a Part-time Sales Director. Our Directors have years of experience in sales and will know exactly what your business needs to excel.

Being part-time means they could be there more at the start to help you hire your team and lay out your strategy, then continue to monitor progress and provide support. This means you can get what you need, without a significant long-term investment. If this is something your business could benefit from, contact us and talk to one of our Regional Directors to see how we can help you. 

Contact your Regional Director of Boardroom Advisors

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.